I recently read the tragic story of Matt Peters, an Iowan farmer who, in 2011, took his own life, leaving a wife and children behind. Peters’ suicide was a shock to everyone. Yet his wife, Ginnie Peters, was certain that the exposure to chemicals in the pesticides he used so often compromised her husband’s mental health, ultimately leading him to take his own life.
Earlier in 2008, the NCBI released a report that examined the link between certain pesticides and diagnosed depression from 1993 to 1997. The conclusion explained that farmers who had the most exposure to pesticides were five times more susceptible to depression, a known risk factor for suicide.
According to Scientific American, Peters and her late husband were a part of a report conducted in North Carolina and Iowa. A near 90,000 farmers were included in the Agricultural Health Study done by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Last month it was reported that out of 19,000 people studied, those who used certain pesticides — organochlorine insecticides and fumigants — had an 80 to 90 percent higher chance of being diagnosed with depression.
FACT: Across the Globe Farmers are at a Higher Risk for Suicide
Could this exposure and subsequent increased risk for depression be linked to Peters’ suicide? It is possible. According to a 2011 census, it was discovered that the number of farmer suicides is 47% higher than the national average. In fact, the rate of farmer suicides across the globe is astonishing. From Asia and Europe to the States, an estimated 300,000 potentially pesticide-related suicides have been reported since 1995.
India alone, a country where 600 million people still rely heavily on agriculture as a way of making a living, has undeniably questionable statistics. In August 2014 the Los Angeles Times reported that in India just about every half hour a farmer commits suicide by either hanging, drowning or ingesting a lethal dose of pesticides. Elsewhere, in France a farmer commits suicide every two days, according to Newsweek.
In the midst of reports of suicide among farmers, three major pesticide manufacturers – Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer CropScience say they never use the certain pesticides known to have caused depression. Monsanto has aimed to disprove the connection for some time, ever since introducing their Bt technology to India, which happened to be in 1995. On the Monsanto website, research provided by the International Food Policy Research Institute found from a 2008 study, that lack of credit, changes in government policies, cropping patterns, plant and insect resistance to pesticides are numerous causes leading to the suicides. This apparently excuses Monsanto from any type of GMO link to suicide rates. Yet, an article from the Centre for Research on Globalization indicates that, “the highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashta and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. Suicides increased after Bt cotton was introduced.”
As far as I’m concerned this is reason enough to avoid all produce and foods that were once doused with pesticides. And it is my hope that farmers will reduce their use of these dangerous chemicals — for their health and for ours!
Not convinced pesticides pose a threat to the general public? If you need even more reasons to avoid pesticide exposure, check out these articles. And be sure to spread the word!
Joshua Corn – Editor-in-Chief
Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career. Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential. Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of Stop Aging Now, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and is gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show. In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, animal lover and enjoys “living in the now” with his wife and two sons.